Type 2 Diabetes in the Asian Population at Increased Risk of Cancer

Asian woman witha graph before her showing arrow going higher on the scaleThere seems to be a link between type 2 diabetes and the development of cancer, but the studies done on that association have been in the Caucasian population.  Additionally, those studies have been limited in the types of cancer studied.  Therefore, researchers in Taiwan undertook a large nationwide retrospective study on the risk of developing cancer in the type 2 diabetes population.

An article on their research was published online ahead of print on April 17, 2012.  It will appear in the International Journal of Cancer, and the article is “A modest increase in risk of specific types of cancer types in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.”

Using a database released by the National Health Research Institute in Taiwan, the researchers analyzed data from 1996 to 2009.  They calculated the incidence and hazard ratios (HR) for certain types of cancer.

Their results showed that in this Asian population, the overall risk of developing cancer was significantly greater in those patients with type 2 diabetes (n = 895,434; HR = 1.19, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.17-1.20).  The non-type 2 diabetes population also had 895,434 patients.

It was the digestive and urogenital systems that were most at risk for cancer:  the 3 highest HRs were for liver cancer (HR = 1.78; 95% CI = 1.73-1.84), pancreatic cancer (HR = 1.52; 95% CI = 1.40-1.65), and uterus and corpus cancers (HR = 1/38; 95% CI = 1.22-1.55). 

Cancer risk increased with age, the researchers saw.  Men who where older than 75 and who had type 2 diabetes were at the highest risk of developing cancer (HR = 7.76; 95% CI = 7.39=8.15).

In conclusion, this study suggests that the Asian population with type 2 diabetes is at a modest increased risk of cancer, particularly certain types of cancer (digestive and urogenital).  Older Asian men with type 2 diabetes are especially at risk of cancer.

This study, along with studies that show that Caucasians are at an increased risk of cancer, emphasizes the need for cancer screening in the diabetes population.

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